Oliver Lynch

Oliver Lynch

Content writer, language nerd and aspiring screenwriter. Usually found wandering old European towns or trying to snowboard.

‘Can I Drink The Water In…?’ A Guide To Safe Drinking

A guide to where you can drink the tap water across the world.

If you’re wondering if it’s safe to drink the water where you’re going then this at a glance guide will help you prepare. Although we have tried to be thorough, this is not necessarily a comprehensive guide and is subject to change.

Bear in mind that many hotels will purify water on the premises for their guests, especially the larger chains.

You may also find that you acclimatise to water quality after an extended stay in a country. This doesn’t mean that you are immune to water borne diseases such as cholera and e.coli so be very careful.

Unsafe water can be prepared by bringing to a rolling boil (bringing to a boil and then simmering for a few minutes) and then leaving it to cool in a clean container. You can then use this water to drink or prepare food with.

Strange tastes in water can often be either cleaning treatments such as chlorine or sometimes local mineralisation such as calcium.

If in doubt, stick to bottled water…

Bottled Water is King on the road… / photo credit: Priyanka98742

WESTERN EUROPE

As a general rule most of Western Europe is perfectly safe to drink the tap water. Certain cities (Paris, Barcelona, London) have either a high mineral content or a high chlorine content which is used to purify the water. It is, however, perfectly potable, although it might taste funny.

In some regions the water will be mineral water quality (French Alps, Scottish Highlands, Italian midlands, Norway, Sweden).

EASTERN EUROPE

Most of Eastern Europe is fine for drinking water but in some places caution may be best exercised.

Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, the Balkan States and the former Soviet States all have slightly dubious reputations for drinking water. However this is not to say it isn’t drinkable.

Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia are all SAFE for drinking water from the tap.

Russia is also SAFE to drink the tap water in most places.

AFRICA

Africa is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to drinking tap water.

Southern Africa

South Africa, is safe to drink the water in most big towns and cities. If in more rural areas it would be best to check with a local.

Southern African countries including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique all have variable water quality. In most major cities and bigger hotels the water will be fine to drink. Although this can change with the availability of water in the area. Sometimes waste water is recycled, sometimes it’s piped in from outside. If in doubt check with a local.

Avoidthe tap water in Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, CAR and Zambia etc..

West Africa

West African nations including Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania,Togo and Cote d’Ivoire DO NOT have safe drinking water.

North and East Africa

Kenya is generally considered to have a SAFE water supply in big cities and resort areas. In rural areas it is best to stick to bottled water.

Tanzania however is NOT CONSIDERED SAFE for drinking water.

Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya are considered to have DECENT QUALITY drinking water from the tap. The water is often chlorinated. However be careful in rural areas and smaller towns away from big cities.

DO NOT drink the water in Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Chad etc.

ASIA

Middle East

Middle East regions have varying water quality. Most residents don’t drink water from the tap, mostly due to taste. But many countries have drinkable water.

UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Kuwait, Jordan, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Israel all have SAFE drinkable tap water.

Fun fact: Saudi Arabia is the worlds biggest producer of desalinated water.

Iraq and Yemen however DO NOT have safe tap water.

In most of the Stans (former Soviet Republics) it is NOT SAFE to drink from the tap. This includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.

Georgia and Armenia have generally SAFE water. Away from major cities it is probably safer to avoid tap water.

Southern Asia

Southern Asia is generally considered NOT SAFE for tap water. Avoid the tap water in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Thailand has variable water quality. Larger cities tend to be fine (Bangkok, Chaing Mai). Malaysia tends to be DECENT QUALITY and Singapore is considered SAFE.

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are NOT safe to drink from the tap.

China

China is a mixed bag with water quality. As a general rule avoid tap water, normally due to poor plumbing rather than the water quality.

Hong Kong and Macau are SAFE. Shenzhen and Guangzhou are also fine although locals complain of terrible tasting water, so best to avoid.

Most reports for other cities in China are not so encouraging. Shanghai, Beijing and other major cities are NOT considered safe for drinking water.

Asia Pacific

Japan is SAFE for tap water.

Indonesia, The Philippines, New Guinea and Borneo/Brunei are NOT SAFE for drinking water.

Boil water if in doubt / photo credit: belajatiraihanfahrizi

AUSTRALASIA/OCEANIA

Pretty much all of Oceania is SAFE for drinking water. This includes Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Fiji.

In rural/outback locations it is best to check with locals. The same for smaller islands where water may be shipped in.

Pacific Islands such as Tahiti, The Solomon Islands and New Caledonia are NOT SAFE.

 

NORTH AMERICA

The USA and Canada are all SAFE for tap water. As always exercise caution in rural areas.

Hawaii is also SAFE, Puerto Rico is SAFE but exercise caution away from larger towns.

Caribbean

Many islands in The Caribbean are SAFE, including Jamaica, Bahamas, Bermuda, Grenada, St Lucia, Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Haiti, Dominican Republic, Dominica and Virgin Islands are considered NOT SAFE.

 

CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA

Central America

Mexico provides canisters of drinking water to homes for a fee, so tap water in Mexico is generally NOT SAFE to drink.

Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize and El Salvador are also generally NOT SAFE. Although you may find that people insist, especially in the bigger cities, that the water is OK. If in doubt, stick with bottled water.

Costa Rica and Panama are considered to have SAFE drinking water.

South America

As with many places, larger cities tend to be safe for tap water.

Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia are all safe in the larger cities but exercise caution away from these.

Peru, Ecuador, Suriname and Guyana are NOT SAFE and Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay all have variable water quality. Err on the side of NOT SAFE.

Stay hydrated / Photo credit: Inkflo

Global Water Safety

In the Western World, safe tap water is something we take for granted. However, 1 in 10 of the world’s population has no access to clean drinking water.

Charity, WaterAid is working to provide clean drinking water and proper sanitation to the world’s poorest regions.

 

Travel Water Treatment

If you are going travelling, especially for an extended period, we strongly advise taking water purification equipment.

This means you avoid using too much plastic and means you can access clean water whenever you need it.

We recommend:

You can also use a standard reusable water bottle and fill it from water coolers or with cooled boiled water.

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